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Ruth Ozeki and Rebecca Evans

Mar 3, 2022

In the Editing Room with Ruth Ozeki and Rebecca Evans (EH)

New Books Network 2022

Ruth Ozeki, whose most recent novel is The Book of Form and Emptiness, speaks with critic Rebecca Evans and guest host Emily Hyde. This is a conversation about talking books, the randomness and serendipity of library shelves, and what novelists can learn in the editing room of a movie like Mutant Hunt. Ozeki is an ordained Zen Buddhist priest, and her novels unfold as warm-hearted parables that have been stuffed full of the messiness of contemporary life. The Book of Form and Emptiness telescopes from global supply chains to the aisles of a Michaels craft store and from a pediatric psychiatry ward to the enchanted stacks of the public library. The exigencies of environmental storytelling arch over this conversation. Evans asks Ozeki questions of craft (how to move a story through time, how to bring it to an end) that become questions of practice (how to listen to the objects stories tell, how to declutter your sock drawer). And we learn Ozeki’s theory of closure: her novels always pull together at the end so that readers are free to continue pondering the questions they raise.

Mentioned in this episode:

Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.

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Aarthi Vadde and John Plotz

Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.


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